“Clean” meat is here (well, almost)

Right on the heels of unsustainable fruits & veg, comes an article on sustainable “clean meat” from the World Economic Forum:

Scientists serve up 100% real meat, without the cruelty or carbon

Strangely, as I read this article I got a queasy feeling in my stomach, thinking about “a small sample of animal cells that regenerate themselves outside of the animal in large steel tanks”. Embarrassingly, I have to ask myself, “Why does this make me queasy, yet the slaughter of animals living is less-than-ideal conditions just to provide a hamburger, does not?”

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Unsustainable supermarkets

The next time you bite into that seemingly luscious red strawberry – in January – think about this article…

Are supermarkets facing the beginning of the end?

We, in the West, really do face a number of hypocritical decisions and actions on a daily basis. Many of us recycle, but then we go buy more “stuff”; we love our “self-propelled” activities, but then drive our cars to enjoy them; we eat healthy diets, but demand unquestionably unsustainable fruits & veg all winter long.

For most North Americans, it’s possible to have virtually the same health benefits by purchasing locally-grown fruit and veg in season – even through the winter – especially the veg because eating vegetables is far healthier than eating fruit. But let’s face it, selling beets, carrots and cabbages is not as sexy as strawberries, kiwis, avocados, mangos, etc. And lettuce in January is, perhaps, the least sustainable of all. Imagine transporting a truckload of plants from Mexico or California that are 96% water, all this way, just to add a few micronutrients to our table.

Weekend Wandering 7: 3rd World Farmer

3rdWorldFarmerI, too, cringe at the title as I am working with my students to stop using the term “3rd world” in favour of “Developing” or “Pre-Industrial”. That being said, the interactive “game” 3rd World Farmer has done more for my students towards creating empathy than anything else I have introduced to them. Suddenly, they realize what life is like for over 2.5 billion people each and every day. And those same students remember the experience for years afterwards.

Players become subsistence farmers with a family, a small plot of land and $50 to start with. They then direct their own destiny by choosing crops to grow and by suffering the hardships subsistence farmers in developing countries endure: civil war, drought, crop failures, ill health, etc. But, they also have an opportunity to invest in increasing the quality of their lives by sending their children to school, upgrading their farm with a shed and livestock, provided they earn the money to do so.

Students quickly realize the odds are stacked against them. However, that doesn’t prevent some from being “successful” in that they earn income and keep their family healthy and educated.

I use this with Grade 7s in my World Studies course along with a spreadsheet to allow them to keep track of how well they meet the goals that any family would expect from life. What is particularly interesting is how quickly they realize how different their goals in the West are from the goals of subsistence farmers.

If you like reality checks and light bulbs going on in students’ minds, then try 3rd World Farmer. I’ve added it to both the Development page on GeoKnow.net and the Agriculture page.